Terminating a Tenured Versus Non-Tenured Employee Working At a Public or Charter School

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ School Attorney

Tenure for teachers in our public education system has been a controversial topic with the uncertainty of the economy and people leaving their jobs.  Tenure prevents a teacher from being fired or disciplined, including receiving a pay cut, unless the school can prove through notice and a hearing that a teacher has shown evidence of “inefficiency, incapacity, unbecoming conduct, or other just cause” per N.J.S.A. 18A:6-10.  Just cause also means being convicted of a certain crime as defined under N.J.S.A. 18A:6-7.1.  This would include:

  • Sexual Assaults
  • Endangering the welfare of children
  • Reckless Endangerment
  • Abuse, abandonment, cruelty and neglect of child
  • Resisting arrest
  • An offense involving the manufacture, transportation, sale, possession, distribution or habitual use of a controlled dangerous substance
  • A crime involving the use of force or the threat of force to or upon a person or property including, but not limited to, robbery, aggravated assault, stalking, kidnapping, arson, manslaughter and murder
  • Crimes with a weapon
  • Third-degree theft
  • Terroristic threats
  • Criminal restraint
  • Luring or enticing a child into motor vehicle, structure or isolated area
  • Causing or risking widespread injury or damage
  • Criminal mischief
  • Burglary
  • Usury
  • Threats and other improper influence
  • Perjury and false swearing
  • Crime of Escape
  • Bias intimidation
  • Any crime of the fourth degree involving a victim who is a minor
  • Conspiracy to commit or an attempt to commit any of the crimes described above.

Going through the process of dismissing a teacher who has tenure can be difficult, particularly if a school is trying to prove that a teacher was inefficient or engaged in conduct unbecoming to the school.  When it comes to non-tenured employees, schools have more flexibility, and can terminate the employee on any basis they feel is appropriate.  The law does restrict when a board of education can terminate the employee.  Notice must be given that the employee’s contract will not be renewed for the upcoming year by May 15th as per N.J.S.A. § 18A:27-10.  The courts have also made clear that if the terminated employee asks for a reason as to why she is being terminated, he or she is to be provided one.  But there is no notice or hearing that a non-tenured employee must go through, making the process easier to terminate an employee without tenure than it is to terminate an employee with tenure.

To discuss your NJ School Law matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.

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